Dangerous bacteria detected on Washington State ferries

Legionella, a dangerous and at times deadly type of bacteria, has been detected on 6 Washington State ferries.

Washington State Ferries says while planning to reopen the galley spaces, they tested water lines for several contaminates to get ahead of any issues, and discovered the bacteria last month.

“We’re flushing those systems and cleaning those systems, making their okay before we put them back online,” says Ian Sterling, Public Information Officer for the ferry system.

Sterling says many of the water lines on board haven’t been used for at least 18 months, allowing the bacteria to grow. He adds no passengers or crew members would have access to the lines and the discovery shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

“There’s no danger here to the public or crew unless we were to open these thing up and not tested,” says Sterling. “That would have caused a problem.”

Despite the assurances, many commuters say the news is still concerning.

“I would want to know that they’ve thoroughly tested it and that wherever we are, mask-less or not, we’re going to be safe,” says Emily Helming who has used the ferries in the past. “It’s concerning.”

Richard Wright adds, “Definitely something to be wary of for sure. At least they’re trying to make it go away. Make the common areas more accessible for the future.”

Sterling says the bacteria should not impact any schedules or take any vessels out of service. He says even if a commuter is on a boat that has elevated levels of Legionella, they would not have access to any areas where the bacteria could possibly be present.